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Poverty, Livelihood and Class in Rural South Africa

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  • MICHAEL R. CARTER

    ()

  • Julian May

Abstract

Using data from a national living standards survey undertaken in late 1993, this paper disaggregates and explores the economics of livelihood generation and class in rural South Africa in an effort to contribute to the ongoing and vociferous debate in South Africa about poverty and its alleviation. Pursuant to the suggestion of participants in a recent participatory poverty assessment, this paper analyzes what might be termed the class structure of poverty. After exploring the range of claiming systems and livelihood tactics available in rural South Africa, the paper offers a first look at who the poor are by disaggregating the rural population into discrete livelihood strategy classes. Non-parametric regression methods are used to then estimate and graphically explore the nature of the livelihood mapping between endowments and real incomes. In addition to identifying those endowment combinations which map to consumption levels below the poverty line (the asset basis of poverty), the topography of the estimated livelihood mapping helps identify the constraints which limit household's ability to effectively utilize their assets and endowments. These results suggest that poverty is a matter of not only having few assets, but also of constraints which limit the effectiveness with which those assets are used, and poverty and livelihood policy needs to be designed accordingly.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Wisconsin-Madison Agricultural and Applied Economics Department in its series Wisconsin-Madison Agricultural and Applied Economics Staff Papers with number 408.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Jan 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wop:wisaes:408

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  1. Michael Kevane, 1996. "Agrarian Structure and Agricultural Practice: Typology and Application to Western Sudan," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(1), pages 236-245.
  2. Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Issues in measuring and modeling poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1615, The World Bank.
  3. Cleveland, William S. & Devlin, Susan J. & Grosse, Eric, 1988. "Regression by local fitting : Methods, properties, and computational algorithms," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 87-114, January.
  4. Barham, Bradford L. & Boucher, Stephen & Carter, Michael R., 1996. "Credit constraints, credit unions, and small-scale producers in Guatemala," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 793-806, May.
  5. Frederic ZIMMERMAN & Michael R. CARTER, 1996. "Dynamic Portfolio Management Under Risk And Subsistence Constraints In Developing Countries," Staff Papers 402, University of Wisconsin Madison, AAE.
  6. Eswaran, Mukesh & Kotwal, Ashok, 1986. "Access to Capital and Agrarian Production Organisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(382), pages 482-98, June.
  7. Mckinley, Terry & Alarcon, Diana, 1995. "The prevalence of rural poverty in Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(9), pages 1575-1585, September.
  8. Kakwani, Nanak, 1989. "On Measuring Undernutrition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 528-52, July.
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